By Calista Chong (18A01A)
Last November marked the grand opening of the Gudetama Cafe Singapore at Suntec City. Gudetama enthusiasts would welcome this piece of great news with open arms. After all, many of us find the lazy egg yolk relatable. There are days where we find ourselves perpetually weary and overwhelmed by the strong urge to do nothing – at all.
Earlier last month, this writer took advantage of the long weekend to check out the Gudetama cafe with her family. The cafe is a joint venture by two home-grown brands, Joe and Dough and The Soup Spoon. Little Miss Bento, renowned bento artist Shirley Wong, had also been put in charge of the food styling and menu curation. We were excited – or rather, egg-cited – for what was to come.
Although it was only 5 pm – with some time to go before the dinner crowd sets in – most of the 112 seats in the cafe were already occupied. It was evident that the ‘Gudetama fever’ has not dissipated, even after half a year.
We spotted a cake display showcasing creative desserts inspired by the iconic Sanrio character, and also various Gudetama-related merchandise for sale, which included tote bags and plushies. The fancy assortment of cakes included “Citrus Pan” and the classic “Baked Cheesecake”, which were sold for less than $10 – typical prices patrons can expect at cafes. At its entrance, there was a statuette of Gudetama itself with its signature spiritless expression, providing a good photo opportunity for patrons. The sharp-eyed visitor would have noticed that Gudetama has ditched its bacon blanket for a mint leaf – specially tailored to shelter itself from the tropical heat of our sunny island. There was a short queue in front of us, but we were pleased to be ushered into the restaurant after just ten minutes of waiting.
Great effort had been put into the interior design of the cafe, to give it a jocund and playful vibe. Gudetama fanatics and regular patrons alike would have been enamoured by the egg-shaped booths, the waffles hanging overhead and the vibrant posters of Gudetama being cooked and served in a multitude of ways.
After settling into one of the egg capsules, we eagerly browsed the menu.
Spring Menu Special: Spring Mentaiko Pasta ($20)
Good-etama rating: 4/5
The cafe had rolled out a few eggs-quisite creations for the Spring Menu, which is available from 12 March – 30 April. One of the specials was the Spring Mentaiko Pasta. We were impressed by the texture of the pasta – it was silky and al dente. The carbonara sauce was creamy but light, suiting the palates of diners who might not appreciate the heavy aftertaste of too much cream.
The bacon strips were grilled to crisp perfection, and the mentaiko (pollock roe) added a savoury tinge to the whole dish. However, one reviewer in the group felt that the portion size was too huge for her liking – which, the rest of us felt, made up for its price. Other than that, we had no grouses. It was toothsome.
Lazy Surfer ($38.00)
Good-etama rating: 3.5/5
This time, Gudetama groans “bo chup” (“couldn’t care less” in the Hokkien dialect) as it leans listlessly against a bowl, surrounded by a moat of seafood. We found the prawn and mussels fresh. The sauce, coupled with a squeeze of the lemon, added a zesty spice to the overall dish. Unfortunately, we felt that the Brazilian rice was a tad too dry, and not flavourful enough to live up to its name. Alas, unlike the Spring Mentaiko Pasta, the portion size of the dish (we could hardly call it a seafood platter) did not excuse its exorbitant price. We would not recommend this dish to cash-strapped students seeking satiation.
“Shiok” Pork Ribs ($38.50)
Good-etama rating: 4/5
The cafe yet again employs witty wordplay in the Hokkien dialect. “Nua” refers to an egg, but also describes someone lazy and unmotivated – Gudetama perfectly fits the bill. In our opinion, this dish was egg-cellent. Although one of us felt that the pork ribs did not deliver its promise of “an irresistibly tender finish” as it had earnestly assured in the menu, the rest of us were won over by the BBQ sauce, which definitely enhanced the taste of the ribs. The Gudetama egg capsule encased a savoury cheese dip, which was a fitting complement to the fries. However, all of us thought that the dish was priced a little too exorbitantly.
Good-etama rating: 5/5
This reviewer thoroughly enjoyed the drink, and attributes her predilection for Choconana to her sweet tooth. The distinct flavour of banana made the drink refreshing – otherwise it would have been too cloying. The pretzels (unfortunately concealed by the straw) provided a satisfying crunch to the sugary concoction.
Straw-very “Lazy” ($8.50)
Good-etama rating: 2/5
While this drink might be a good complement to the savoury main courses, it was, basically, strawberry syrup in a cup. Take a cup of fruit punch, toss one lone lychee and a single blueberry – you would be able to recreate this drink for yourself. Alternatively, you can order it in another restaurant – at half the price.
While the cafe paid due tribute to its lackadaisical mascot, it has also managed to infuse the cafe with a distinct local flavour. Japanese captions were swapped with Hokkien puns, certifying that this venture was established by Singaporean brands.
The dining experience in Gudetama Cafe Singapore was enjoyable – the quality of the food was not compromised on for the aesthetic, and the staff were friendly and attentive. However, we felt that the choice of music (pop hits like Secret Love Song by Little Mix and Complicated by Avril Lavigne) struck a jarring note in the overall ambience. All in all, from its interior decoration down to the presentation of food, the Gudetama cafe was a feast for the eyes (and camera lens).
Character-themed cafes have recently sprouted up everywhere – in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and now Singapore too. Novelty attracts patrons to these fascinating cafes the first time round, but cafes cannot simply please the eyes – they have to appease the stomach as well. The Gudetama cafe has – fortunately – accomplished both, but at the expense of our poor wallets.
We left the cafe with our hearts and stomachs full. Cue the food coma. There was an impulse to retreat into our shells, throw a blanket around ourselves and take a nice nap – just like good ol’ Gudetama.